Speaking the language of community: Faith and Pop Culture review


Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where you realized the other person did not speak the same language as you? Perhaps it was while traveling overseas, or in South Florida! Or, oddly, it might be while trying to explain Facebook and blogs to your grandmother or parents. There’s no communication because the other person doesn’t understand even the basics of the words you are using. In order to communicate, there has to be a shared language.

This is the premise of a small group study offered by Christianity Today called “Faith and Pop Culture.” I was sent this book to review as part of the Thomas Nelson bloggers program, and spent several happy afternoons on my back porch soaking in the research, quotes, and thought-provoking questions. Just reading the chapter topics alone gives you an idea of the content and the direction of this study.

  • Session 1: Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Monet, and … Rocky? Are movies the art form of our day? And if so, how do they connect with Christian faith?
  • Session 2: When Literature Leads us to God How can great books pave the road to faith?
  • Session 3: Finding God in Sports Do we take sports seriously enough?
  • Session 4: The Television Dilemma With hundreds of channels screaming for our attention, how do we decide what — or whether — to watch?
  • Session 5: Cover your Eyes! Must all entertainment Christians enjoy be “family friendly?”
  • Session 6: Jesus and Shot ‘Em Up Can violence be entertainment for Christians?
  • Session 7: Hollywood Disciples Can Christians influence the entertainment industry?
  • Session 8: Entertain me! It’s the cry of our culture, but is it compatible with a life of faith?

The format of each session gives the group members a thought-provoking article to read before the meeting, and then ice breakers and discussion questions for the meetings. One thing I really appreciated about this series is the fact that the authors did not take the easy routes out of the sticky questions. While fully acknowledging theological issues, they also left room for legitimate discussions based on both sides of the cultural question. For instance, you will not find a quote in this book saying that Christians should never watch TV or a rated R movie. Instead, you’re likely to find a set of questions that help you clarify your own opinions, as well as find new insights that you may have overlooked before.

The end result of this study, in my opinion, is teaching people who are — let’s face it, folks — sometimes culturally illiterate Christians the “language” of the people we live with, our culture and our commuity. It gives you reasoned answers for discussions that center around spiritual themes in the culture, as well as inspiring examples of others who have used culture as a springboard for life change. But be prepared…there are very few easy answers here.

By Marla Saunders

I am passionately devoted to living my life in the places God has given me. Over the years those places have changed: from homeschooler to businesswoman, from consumer to storyteller. These days I'm focusing on building a new business and figuring out what it means to do everything with integrity and informed by faith.